20: Moore To See

I suppose it really hit home when I opened the letter from Lord Brett Sinclair, with the Gold Napoleon ticket inside. I was going. So, confirmed I made the arrangements to go to London on the 10th September…

The Letter From Lord Brett Sinclair

So when I left home on the 10th I felt as though I was well organised; nothing left to chance. It was 11.45 and I was over half way to the Swindon Train Station. It was then, as I checked my iPhone for messages, I realised the charge was down to 65%. I would need to charge that when I got to the hotel…

Then I remembered I hadn’t packed my charger!

I thought about going back but decided against it. It would have meant a hurried journey to the Station. Also, I was sure it would last until I got home tomorrow…well, fairly sure….well, ok, I did not think I would need it urgently if it ran out…

I was off to London and I could not remember the last time I went to London. Well, if you do not include Paddington Station, where I stopped a couple of times this year to wait for a tube train to take me to the Greenford arm of the Company I work for.

I used the service where you collect your tickets from the machine at the station. I have to admit I am not over impressed with the bloody things. I mean, what if they had a tantrum and decided not to give you your tickets…

Well, it was funny I should mention that. I looked at the booking number on my iPhone note pad, Then I put my debit card in and nothing. The option to buy or collect never came up.

Great!

Out came the debit card and I tried again….and again….and again….and again. The Corporal Jones in me was beginning to surface…

Finally, after trying every conceivable way of putting the card in, it worked with the way I put it in the first time.

Cheers!

I entered the number only to be told it was not recognised. Three more tries and the machine had obviously got its sight back because it recognised the number I keyed and the message came up:

“Please wait for your tickets.”

As if I needed to be told!

I moved away from the machine. I was now suspicious and decided to check the tickets before I went any further. Were they all there, were they printed correctly? After what I had been through my confidence level was not high.

Now the second hurdle of the day. I got to the machine stations had put in all over the country whose only purpose, from my experience, is to assist passengers to miss their trains. Of all the journeys I have made since they installed the bloody things only twice has the ticket opened the barriers; nearly every time the guard has to let me through with his over-ride ticket.

The same thing happened today and I got about twenty feet from the machine when I was called back. Time was running out and the last thing I needed was some officious guard…

“Sir, sir,” she cried.

I turned round rather impatiently and I noticed she was holding something, but didn’t really register what it was.

“Is this your wallet,” she asked

“No,” was my first answer, then I looked more closely. It was!

My manners improved here, somewhat, and I thanked her after telling her some of the things that were in it. That was careless and could have made a big difference to the day I had planned out.

I thank her a couple of times more and then dash off to the platform.

The weather, when I got up looked quite bright, now it was dull. As I waited on the Station, I wondered if I would regret not bringing a my Columbo style raincoat. I shrugged. It was too bloody late now.

The train turned up on time – a pleasant surprise – and having got a reserved seat I did not hurry too much. I was placed on an Aisle seat and was next to some chap who was reading a football magazine. A little further up the train were some youths wearing football shirts.

I began to think. Why did they do that, wear football shirts? I suppose it was a tribal thing; bit like national flags. I looked at an overweight, seat busting chap, thinking how big the sizes must go up to? An injury in their favourite team and suddenly there is an announcement:

“Will the fat bastard in the team shirt report to the team manager…he’s needed to replace our star striker!”

Hmm. Ok. Too much time on my hands…

I decided to read for the hour or so I would be on the train. I removed my Amazon Kindle and opened up ‘The Man With The Golden Gun’ by Ian Fleming; the last Bond novel written by the original author. Over the last couple of months I had been re-reading all the James Bond books again.

The train journey passed by quite quickly, and as we drew into Paddington I looked out of the window to see high-rise flats, most of which displaying the week’s laundry over the balcony. One had a bike. I thought about living in one of those high rises, especially with my fear of lifts and insistence on taking the stairs. By the time I would have got the bike down all those flights of stairs I would have been too tired to ride it!

Again, I avoided the rush and stayed seated until most people piled off. Then, once on the platform I needed the toilet. I found it quite quickly and looked at the price. Thirty pence.

Hey ho!

I got in, walking to the left, which the sign says is the way in. By the turnstile where you put your money in, is a chap, in a chair, looking relaxed.

“Go in the other way,” he says.

“Thought this was the way in,” I smiled.

“It is, but you need to go in through the way out.”

“Right…” I said, dubiously. I had never been one for riddles…

I turned round and went to the way out and got to the turnstile. I could not get my coins in because it was blocked with coins. I fiddled with it for a good ten minutes, the pressure in my bladder increasing. I was rapidly approaching the Red Indian war-dance stage of wanting to go.

Then some chap from behind just strolled through the turnstile. It was not locked and dependent on coins to release it. I watched two other blokes walk through before the urge in me focused my mind and I dashed in and to the nearest cubical, nearly knocking down to other blokes on the way. When you have got to go, you have got to go!

I stood there for around three minutes or more, my eyes glazed over as I emptied my bladder. The simple pleasures in life are often the best…

Once out of Paddington Station the changeable weather decided sun. I could live with that. I figured it might be a good idea to check out exactly where the venue for my evening in London was in relation to my hotel. I wanted to make sure I would allow enough time to get there later; I hate to rush.

I put the postcode in on the iPhone map app and it plotted the route for me, telling me how far and how long it should take me on foot. The positive was the route took me through Hyde Park, a lot of people about either jogging or walking. There were quite a few families about and events which seemed to be catering for them.

It was Kent House in Rutland Gardens that I was looking for. After thirty minutes or so I found it, tucked down a side-street, with a barrier and gatehouse vetting the cars who came and left.

A Nice Walk To The Venue Via Hyde Park

At around 6pm tonight it would be hosting an event for a company called Network. It was through this Company over the last half-dozen or so years that I managed to collect numerous DVD collections of some of my favourite ITC series of the sixties and seventies. Series like The Saint, The Champions, Man In A Suitcase and many of the Gerry Anderson TV Series along with The Sweeney.

Tonight I would be attending the launch of the 40th Anniversary of The Persuaders! To mark this event there would be a showing of two episodes of the new digitally re-mastered series. The two episodes had been chosen by Sir Roger Moore, who would be at the event that night and was probably the main reason I decided to go.

At the entrance to Rutland Gardens was a gatehouse with a guard working the barrier. I decided to make sure I was at the right place so went and spoke to him.

“Hello,” I said, being all for original openings. “But is Kent House down there?”

“Yes, sir, first building.”

“I’m attending an event by Network DVD tonight…”

The guard frowned. That caused a tingle to run the length of my spin. Had I got it wrong? Surely not? I checked my ticket – probably for the hundredth time. No, it was all set up for today…

The Gold Napoleon Ticket

“Yes, it’s being attended by Sir Roger Moore…” I said, old name dropper me.

Another frown, then a “Really.”

He looked up a list, then smiled at me. “Ah yes, hadn’t noticed that before. I only got on an hour or so ago. We don’t get told in advance. His driver is booked in. He’s been here before for some other event, some sort of awards, I think.”

It was my turn to say: “Really?”

“Yes, very nice bloke.”

“I’ve heard that,” I replied.

“Yes, that night he’d been inside for a couple of hours and then came out with a plateful of food and a drink for the driver outside. Didn’t have to bring it himself, could’ve sent someone else.”

We talked for a couple of minutes then I decide to walk to the hotel. It’s this part of the journey I needed to measure for that evening. It was now 1.30pm. I programmed the iPhone and by coincidence it was around two miles to the Hotel.

The bulk of the journey was quite straightforward, along Kensington High Street. About forty minutes later I found the turn-off just eight minutes after it had turned cloudy again and began spitting with rain.

I checked in at the hotel and found the room to be cramped with bunk bed, metal but felt comfortable; the bathroom was a small room with a toilet, basin and shower. One window, about eight inches square. It was open and let in little air. The room was stuffy and I was feeling hot.

I took a quick shower and decided the room was not a place to hang around in. The weather had brighten a little so I thought I would go for a stroll. It was less than ten minutes before I would be on Kensington High Street where the shops were.

I suddenly realised I had not eaten since 9am, so bought a couple of sandwiches, a drink and a Snickers bar. I know how to live!

The event called for formal attire and I had dressed in jacket trousers, shirt with tie but my footwear was the walking trainers. I had brought along my only pair of shoes. Heavy and steel toe-capped. They were uncomfortable like most shoes I had worn in my life. However, needs must…as some chap once said…

So around 16:45, with the shoes on I begin the walk, deciding as soon as I find a cash point I would take a bus, I managed to work out they ran regularly up and down Kensington High Street.

However, by the time I found a cash point which would give me my money without having to pay for the privilege I was almost fifty percent of the way there. I walked the rest as well and get to the venue twenty-two minutes early. But I got a few pub shots on the way; even if everyone seemed to try to get in on the photograph.

My feet were already beginning to hurt, and there was at least three hours or more to go. I hoped there was seating inside other than the screening room.

It was 17:38 when I got there, very much on time. The reception was at 18:00, the two episode viewing was supposed to be at 18:45.

About ten minutes later myself and other Gold Napoleon ticket holders were called in. A majority of the people seemed to have come in seventies gear; as suggested but fortunately was not compulsory.

In eight minutes the crowd started to move then a woman calls out if the Gold Napoleon Ticket holders would like to come to the front…

Other Side Of The Gold Napoleon Ticket

The time-table was changed, as I along with other Gold Napoleon ticket holders, walked in. Sir Roger Moore was to sign the copies of the Box Set. As I queued I got to see the original Aston Martin DBS, that Roger Moore drove as Lord Brett Sinclair. The boot was open and in was signed by both Tony Curtis and Roger Moore.

Maleclipboard checked by name and let me through and Femaleclipboard took me to the room where Sir Roger Moore was signing The Persuaders! Blu Ray box sets.

As I entered the large room I saw the man himself. In front of me in the queue was a bloke who told me the man to Sir Roger’s left was his PA. Much to his delight, my fellow queue mate saw another bloke stood in front of the desk where Sir Roger was seated, signing box sets. He was taking each person’s camera or camera-phones and taking pictures. Although a lot less outwardly demonstrative than my queue mate, I was pleased that there was an opportunity to get my photo taken with the man himself…

I had not brought my camera as I had read the blurb when the ticket arrived which indicated no cameras. However, all was not lost as my iPhone has got a perfectly good 5 megapixel camera which should do a good enough job. So, as my turn arrived I handed over my iPhone to the bloke in front of the desk and handed over the box set to Sir Roger Moore and showed him where I would like him to sign it.

The Signed Blu Ray Folder.

“Thanks for such an entertaining blog and your work in the children’s charity,” said Sir Roger to me.

I raised an eyebrow in surprise. “I didn’t think you read my blog?”

“Ah, you’ll be surprised,” he responded…

I woke up from the daydream. Yep the last bit of dialogue was a lie…

I said a few words, none of which were what I planned, and then moved on after getting back my iPhone.

It was then onto the reception room. I was given a glass of Champagne and then mingled amongst a bigger crowd than I would have expected. There were sandwiches, small cut without crusts available. There were egg and cress, chicken and Caesar salad, Brie and cranberry – not a proper cheese as far as I’m concerned, rather tasteless but the cranberry was ok though – beef and mustard. I ate about 12; but they were no more than 1.5 mouthfuls each…well I was hungry and had done quite a bit of walking that day!

After twenty minutes or so my feet and back were killing me; a combination of the walk to the venue and walking around the room with only two chairs and both of them in use by disable chaps. What made it worse was there were quite a few people wearing trainers! I need not have caused myself such grief!

The Cover For The First Release of The Persuaders! In The 80s

I drank about two and half glasses of the bubbly, then went onto orange juice and was relieved when they announced the episode screenings. A chance to rest the old dogs…

In the viewing room was quite a big screen. In front of it was a small stage and I did not need to be a detective to work out it was for the question and answer session after the screenings.

Once most people were seated, I got a bit of shock when Barry Norman came onto the stage and explained there was to be a change in the schedule. They would show the first episode then there would be a Q&A session which Barry Norman would moderate. Then the second episode chosen by Sir Roger Moore would be shown.

I was surprised Barry Norman was there, even more surprised to hear his high praise for Sir Roger, especially as behind the man’s back Norman was quite critical. Thinking about it, perhaps I should not have been surprised as he had always tended on the hypercritical in my opinion.

The first episode was shown and I enjoyed the novelty of seeing it on the Big Screen. Of course, it would have been better had people not insisted on holding up their mobile cameras at various intervals but there we go, for every advantage of today’s devices there are disadvantages.

So through the first ever televised episode of The Persuaders! (Overture) we went. It looked rather good up on the big screen. Projected from a Blu Ray player using one of the box sets.

The Q&A’s came. After regularly watching Barry Norman’s Film programme over the years, hearing the way he ran down old Sir Rog, I was quite surprised at his gushing praise for the man now…or was I? Years of watching his Film ‘whatever year’ programme should have prepared me for his ‘style’.

Anyway, despite Barry Norman’s probing, trying to dig up the ‘dirt’, so to speak, about things like Sir Roger’s working relationship with Tony Curtis, Sir Roger never dished out the dirt only the positive. It was the same with Sir Roger’s autobiography, where he made it clear from the outset his biography, ‘My Word Is My Bond’ was not going to be seedy revelations…

The Persuaders! Annual: Nearly 40 years old.

Once Barry got his questions in he generously allowed others from the audience to ask questions before the introduction to the second Persuaders! episode chosen by Sir Roger Moore.

The session must have gone on for forty minutes at least and ended with a standing ovation. I was one of the first three to stand up. I would like to say it was purely because I enjoyed it but that was only part of it. My arse was dead and standing up helped restore the blood supply.

Quite a few people left with the exit of Sir Roger Moore. But despite my protesting arse, I stayed on to watch the second episode ‘A Death In The Family’. I probably would not get the chance to see any episodes on the big screen again.

After the episode I left. My feet and arse were still killing me so I decided I would take the bus, it would drop me off near enough to the hotel to give the dogs only a short walk.

I bought a litre of orange juice and two Oatmeal bars in a shop before getting back to the hotel, tired. I drank half the orange juice, ate the bars and then went to bed; which was surprisingly comfortable.

As I drifted off I reflected on an episode of Inspector Morse, the one where he meets one of his heroes of Opera. It turned out to be a great disappointment to him; as did most things for him, which was why he (probably) was such a misery guts. I felt rather luckier than that because I had met one of my heroes and he had turned out to be very much as I imagined he would be…

Of course, it was a brief meeting in very amiable circumstances, but still, it was nice to be left without disappointment….

 

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48 comments on “20: Moore To See

  1. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR FITRAMBLER
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU.

    And that’s neither deer as in venison nor dear as in expensive.

  2. You’re not far from the truth actually, Gloomers. I nipped down to the Real Sausage Emporium in Nether Wallop at lunchtime and bought half a dozen Caribou, Capercaillie, Cantaloupe and Chipotle bangers. Couldn’t find any decent bread though, so I had to wedge all six into a Sainsburys doughy white bap.

  3. To be ranked as highly as second rate, GloomLaden, by one such as yourself who plays at the highest level in the Premier League of literature, fills my very bosom with pride. The high altitude at which you perch, on the skyscraper pedestal of your own imagining, obscures you from the sight of us mere mortals who can only dream of being held in such regard. You, up to your ankles in cloud – from the head downwards – and us on bare earth with our feet in the trenches. You should, however, consider yourself fortunate that the lofty platform on which you place yourself, exists only in your own disturbed mind. I have no doubt that your complete and utter lack of physical stamina and mental motivation would prevent you from scaling even the minutest of meagre molehills fashioned from more worldly materials. The suggestion of you playing fast and loose with anything at all, might very easily cause me to drop the lower half of my colon in amusement.

  4. Now come on, Blameworthy, you’re far more of a pedant about grammar than I am. Robert Robinson and Stanley Middleton would turn in their graves to hear me play so fast and loose with it but – and speak this soft! – I think that’s because they’re both on the defensive, Bob because he found literary writing too hard to do much of – he didn’t enjoy writing at all – and Stan because he felt literature was a sort of sacred flame the appreciation of which had necessarily to be limited to an educated elite. Dickens, I’ll wager, wasn’t pecious about it at all. You, meanwhile, display the excess of respect for the rules typical of all second raters.

    Marmoset and cumquat sausage, anyone?

  5. I believe I can hear the sound of both Robert Robinson and Stanley Middleton turning in their graves; and please don’t mention Fitrambler and escaping gas in the same breath. I sincerely hope your festive champagne has plenty of fizz otherwise you may have to rely on your own enthusiasm to make it sparkle.

  6. ‘Increasingly few’ is terrible grammar, but people know just what you mean when you say it so why not?

    I wonder if the Oxforfshire pub lets its patrons eat the bread while partaking of the beer? It does sound good. Let’s go there now. Now! N- Too late, the moment has gone, the enthusiasm escaped like carbon dioxide from Fitrambler’s cider lite champagne.

  7. I’m really getting into this bread thing Gloomers. Take a look at the Real Bread Campaign map entry just below Abingdon; the Old Farmhouse Bread Company in the village of Steventon. They sell 15 different types of bread which all meet the bread campaign’s 5 main criteria. By coincidence the – as yet unpublished – BBBBB (Blameworthy’s Best British Beer Book) lists the North Star in the same village at Number 12 in the Top 100 best pubs. I’ll drive you out there sometime if you like; there’s bound to be a decent parish church in which to say a prayer for a full life, and who knows they may even have a village family butcher from whom we can purchase a boot load of magnificent meaty sausages. I’d love to get my hands on some of the woodcock, wortleberry, watercress, wormwood and walnut flavour. If the local morris dancers make an appearance it could be a perfect day.

  8. With a bit of luck, the hunt for real bread will jostle with your enthusiasm for sausages, old churches and the increasingly few pubs you can stand going into, leading to a full life. Bob, meanwhile, does seem to be having something of a full death, putting in more appearances on the media than he did in the last 10 years of his life. I have also discovered – how did I miss it? – that he wrote a novel called The Club which I have not yet read. Reasons to live come seldom and few, but there’s one.

  9. I must confess to not having taken much interest in the Real Bread Campaign until now, but a quick check of the website tells me there is a bakery in Hinton Parva which sells Mrs. Blameworthy’s favourite sour dough bread. I don’t recall having seen any shops in Hinton Parva but may have to investigate at the weekend. My slow worm, juniper and deadly nightshade sausages should go down well between a couple of slices of decent wholemeal.

    Caught the quick clip of St. Bob on the repeat of Have I Got News For You last weekend, and we also listened to Brain of Brains on Radio Four at the weekend, which included a question relating to your deceased hero.

  10. Never mind sausages, Blameworthy, nice as they are – what about real bread? A gander at the Real Bread Campaign website shows that no real bread is to be had in all of Swindon. Come back Titcheners, all is forgiven.

  11. You are absolutely right, GloomLaden; I would be no more likely to enter an internet cafe than to visit one of those soullessly, corporate coffee shops that blight our town centres like the crusty pustules of a particularly virulent form of infestation. I survived quite happily for a week without the use of a computer. It was not until midweek in the holiday house that, whilst stumbling nakedly through to the kitchen in the dead of night, searching for something to alleviate the dryness caused by a surfeit of Herefordshire rough cider, I noticed the eerie green glow of an internet hub tucked away behind a table in the corner of the room. It’s been nice to manage without gadgetry though; it never occurred to me to take a laptop with me. I’m sure regular blog readers will also have enjoyed a break from my persistently tedious and inane comments.

    As well as my continuing search for impossibly remote rural pubs, churches and cider makers, I now seem to have developed the urge to visit every independent family butchers’ shop I come across in English market towns. I’m considering starting a sausage list; I do love a good meaty banger. The more unlikely the combination of ingredients the better; the squirrel, passion fruit and leak variety were particularly tasty.

  12. Washing machines are forever going wrong; I reckon you’ve done very well having one for 12 years. We have just bought a new one, the old having given up after five years. There are not so many launderettes as once there were. Which is odd, because with so many people living in flats where there is little room for them, you’d think demand would be strong.

    Observational skills are quite important for writing, though it can depend on the writing. Ivy Compton Burnett’s novels contain descriptive passages only when a new character is being introduced, all else being done by dialogue. And those descriptive passages there are fail to convince. On the other hand, I once read a novel by the French author Georges Perec in which there was nothing but description of room and their contents, the ‘story’ having to be inferred by the reader from what was described.

  13. I cannot think what you are hinting at but I’m quite observant. Besides, it an area I know quite well as I have lived in it for 25 years now. At the top end of Graham Street. There have been quite a few changes over the years, several shops going with new ones opening on the old premises.

    Unfortunately, my washing machine died on me a couple of weeks ago, only 12 years old, don’t last long these days…So I took a walk down the road to find a Laundrette that I remembered seeing a few weeks ago. Less than five minutes walk, which was quite pleasing…

    Back in the late 90s when I last needed a laundrette the nearest I could find was one in Ferndale Road. A Good twenty-five minute walk. Although the 50 minutes walking there and back wasn’t a problem, being lumbered with washing in a couple of bags was; especially when the weather wasn’t behaving too well. My parents hadn’t long moved to Plymouth so no favours to be had there…

    But being a writer – albeit an amateur one – should make your observant. I’d like to say that was the reason. However, any observational skills I developed were honed in my early days at school avoiding bullies, who took great delight in using me as a knuckle drum. Eyes peeled at all times in those days…

    Hey ho!

  14. To havr seen one in Manchester Road, Fitrambler, you must have been looking very hard. Which begs more questions than I am willing to ask, let alone desire you to answer.

  15. I suppose I was tending towards the totally ridiculous. I can’t even blame it on the drink…

    I suspect Blameworthy doesn’t know what an Internet Cafe is?

    I’ve not been in one either although I have seen one in Manchester Road…

  16. Now, Fitrambler, we both know Blameworthy is unlikely ever to go into an internet cafe for any reason short of launching a Ludite attack. He is more likely to have fallen down one of the many ravines that blight the Malvern landscape (of my imagination).

  17. Blamers may be on holiday, but if in his travels he finds an internet cafe, he may be tempted to fire off the odd comment. Now that would be scarey for you, Gloom-Laden…..

    ..well, ok, I might be dipping into the realms of science fiction but you just never know with Blameworthy….

  18. Regular readers will be appalled that Blameworthy has gone on holiday, a folly which will silence him for the week, if not permanently.

  19. I’ve already checked the TV pages and discovered that the repeat of Have I Got News For You is being shown tomorrow evening. Now, if I can summon up the motivation to abandon the family hovel tomorrow, we should be staying in rented accommodation where the TV is much bigger than the bakelite set at home. As I recall from our last visit, there was a top-of-the range wooden affair with a screen almost a foot wide. Should be able to pick out Bob’s shiny, bald pate a treat on that one. On the other hand the programme is being shown after 1opm when, in normal circumstances, I should be tucked up in bed with a mug of cocoa, a wax candle and a good holiday read. I rather fancy a little Trollope, you know.

  20. When you do catch it on the repeat. Blamweorthy, you may be struck – as I certainly was – by the ‘low definition’ quality of the clip of Bob. I think high definition telly is something of a con until I espy some bit of archivery which demonstrates just how poor the quality was, even as recently as 1981. Then again, you’ll be watching on some old 1950s bakalite set with a 7 inch screen, won’t you?

    As to Mrs Blameworthy’s reaction to Bob’s unadvertised appearance, I am unsurpsied. If Radio 4 were a person – would that it were, would that it were – his voice would be Bob’s. All Radio 4 listeners have a Pavlovian reaction, therefore. Mind you, Bob hated The Archers, the theme from which, he said, had him out of his armchair and at the off seitch faster than anything else.

  21. I had popped out to the kitchen to make a hot drink during ‘Have I Got News For You’ yesterday evening, when I suddenly heard Mrs. Blameworthy bellowing ‘You’re missing Robert Robinson’. Well, of course, I’m not missing him at all. I was saddened by his death, but what’s to miss? I was genuinely upset when John Martyn and Gerry Rafferty died, but Bob was old and insignificant and no great loss to anyone. The level of excitement which Bob’s appearance generated in Mrs. Blameworthy was a bit disturbing though. I wasn’t even aware that she was still awake when I eased myself out of my chair in front of the TV to go and put the kettle on. I’ve not seen her so animated since that bloke fell off the roof in the Archers. Could it be possible that she once had a secret hankering for the now deceased, follically challenged quizmaster? She did go a bit quiet when his death was announced, now I come to think about it. Still, no point worrying about it now; I’ll try to catch the repeat later.

  22. Nice to see Robet Robinson apprearing on Have I Got News For You this evening in a clip from Ask The Family in 1981.

  23. ‘The trouble with last words,’ Robert Robinson wrote, ‘is that they so often have the smell of the midnight oil about them. Wilde’s ‘Either that wallpaper goes or I do’ is very good but you can bet he worked it up well in advance.’ I did see the Craig Brown piece in the Mail. Steve Jobs – whose name always makes me snigger, if only mentally – obviously knew his Bob, contriving last words that sounded spontaneous but were actually a summation of his hippy ethos.

  24. Now, look here, GloomLaden! You seem to have dragged me down to your level of filth now. When I asked about times in your life when you have experienced enjoyment, I wasn’t thinking about sex; but you – with those foul, disgusting thoughts burbling to the surface of your mind like trapped methane rising up through the excrement in a rat-infested Victorian sewer – could imagine nothing else. Let us abandon this topic now and move swiftly on to something a little more edifying and worthy of sophisticated souls such as ourselves.

    Let us default to death – the reliably safe option. Did you see Craig Brown’s article about famous last words in the Mail on Tuesday?

  25. I always try to make you feel safe and secure, GloomLaden; wouldn’t want to put you under any pressure. Are you able to reveal the name of the person who caused you to wriggle free in the nick of time when faced with rapidly oncoming pleasure. Wasn’t Fitrambler, was it?

  26. Blameworthy, I have never enjoyed myself. And while it has on occasion been a struggle to maintain such a record, it is seldom a problem in your company

  27. Not I, GloomLaden; those days are long gone. I did once though, albeit fairly locally rather than around the world. Not to worry though, if the prostate cancer ‘kicks in’, as you so graphically put it, I would imagine I’ll be aware of it whatever I happen to be getting up to at the time.

    And you didn’t answer my question.

  28. Where as you, Blameworthy, cavort about the world enjoying yourself?? If so, at least you’ll know when the prostate cancer kicks in.

  29. I suppose Cornwall could be described as rather wild and primitive in comparison to the Eastcott area of Swindon. I think it’s more likely that, at the age of eight, you developed a fear of enjoying yourself. Had you ever experienced joy and pleasure the rest of your life would have been spent trying to achieve it again and again. That would have required effort and would regularly have resulted in disappointment, so you settled, at an early age, for the security and certainty of gloom and despair. But, come on now, be honest, you must have enjoyed yourself at least once in your life.

  30. I suspect it is most likely the barrels were labelled ‘Mead’ but did not contain any. It was some sort of scheme by which Cornish landlords could overcharge tourists for this somewhat intractable drink. I can further assure you that I was well out of short trousers – never to be in them again – by 1981 which was the last time I went on holiday. I didn’t like Cornwall at all; altogether too wild and primitive for my tastes, even then. There were other holidays, of course, to Weston and less agreeably to Pendine in Wales and Swanage in wherever that is. But, like Alan Bennett, I had developed hy the age of eight the ability, with me ever since, never quite to be able to enjoy myself. Stay where you’re put, I say.

  31. Come, come now, GloomLaden; they weren’t great big barrels, you were just a lot smaller then. Are your childhood memory banks short-circuiting again or have you just indulged too enthusiastically in the mead? Surely no pub landlord of sound mind would leave big barrels of alcohol outside his pub and expect them to remain full and intact. Were the customers simply encouraged to help themselves free of charge? I suspect you may have been furtively absorbing the old Daphne Du Maurier novels tucked inside dust jackets from the works of Proust, or perhaps you and your parents stumbled upon some sort of covert, illicit smuggling ring in a secret, secluded Cornish cove whilst on your family holiday. Good God, you’ll be telling us next that you stayed in a holiday camp where the childrens paddling pool was filled with gin.

    Your comment conjures up a magnificent image of the young GloomLaden though, with short trousers and kiss-me-quick hat – bucket in one hand, spade in the other – wailing ‘Mummy, mummy, Gloomy wants dwinnkkeee’! I’m sure I speak for all the readers of this blog when I say I would love you to regale us with further tales of the GloomLadens in foreign parts. You didn’t happen to spot Jack Shepherd while you were down there, did you?

  32. Well, now I have tried mead and can confiem what Blameworthy suggested and I – to be fair – suspected; it is horribly sweet and cloying. God knows how Henry VIII and his pals got enough of it back to get drunk. Holidaying (against my will) in Cornwall as a child circa 1981, there were great big barrels of the stuff outside pubs and I wanted to try it (having read books set in medeival times) but was not allowed. So an ancient wrong has been set right, irobically revealing tha ancient wrong to have been the right decision.

  33. I noticed the bottle stuffed up your jacket as you sloped out of work earlier. The noxious stench may have emanated from your own putrid flesh. You were looking unusually flustered and flushed this afternoon, as one does when the word ‘sex’ is uttered within earshot.

  34. For a seasoned walker, Blameworthy, your sense of distance is proving awfully poor. There are no shops ‘a few yards’ from my abode. The shop in question is about fifteen minutes walk away. Though you did mention getting the mead at the shop, the bottle has about it that musty combination patina of age one associates with the Blameworthy residence (not to mention residents).

  35. I, too, will be concentrating hard while watching University Challenge this evening, hoping to understand at least one of the questions. No expensive wine accompaniment for me though. As befits my lowly station in life I shall be sipping from a small bottle of Old Slug Porter. I make it myself, you know, by collecting the numerous gastropod molluscs which thrive in the damp and dingy conditions of my artisanal hovel.

  36. Fitrambler, you’ll be pleased to hear that GloomLaden and I have resumed hostilities, following his last comment.

    I paid good money for the mead, you ungrateful bastard, which I discovered in a wine shop a few yards down the road from where you live. Heaven forbid that you should ever be required to venture out to purchase your own drinks. I now wish I’d provided you instead with a large bottle of Malmsey and a small piece of Sewidge.

  37. Fitrambler, you’ll be pleased to hear that Blameworthy and I have settled our differences So much so, in fact, that he has dredged up, from the antiquarian dinge of his artisanal hovel, a bottle of mead for me to try. Ity should make a fine accompaniment to this evenings University Challenge.

  38. You two really ought to get together in the pub to discuss this further; I’m told the Southbrook is quite pleasant. I think it was Mrs. Gowithit who once said you’d make a lovely couple. Count me out though, I’ve got something else on that day.

    I claim no knowledge of film, television or acting but I can’t help thinking that Sir Roger Moore would have been excellent as Chief Superintendent Sir Roger Barnaby in Midsomer Murders.

    GloomLaden once quoted Kafka to me, who said you should treat words as if you are merely borrowing them and therefore use them sparingly. By Christ, Gloomers, just how big is your overdraft?! OK, so those who can’t, criticize. But at least they CAN criticize.

  39. In other words you put forward a PR presentation to make hypocrisy acceptable.

    It is hypocrisy however you wish to label it.

    I would prefer him to stick to being an author.

    I believe his father was Leslie Norman was an accomplished Director, writer and producer…

    Perhaps the old saying stands: Those who can do, those that can’t criticise…or words of that nature…

  40. Fitrambler, I can accept much of what you say about Moore, the Bond franchise and Bazza Norman. But Barry Norman was in a difficult position when on Film Whathaveyou because he had to be both critic and intervieweer. If he though a film or actor was shit, he was unlikely to be able to say so when interviewing the sod. So I think one has to take the review as Bazza’s ‘true opinion at the time’ and discount the interview as publicity fluff; Barry was a journo, after all.

  41. It is indeed possible to change your mind about a film or an actor’s performance over the years when one approaches it again. However, my hypocrasy criticism applies to when he was on his Film Whatever programme. He would pour out his vitrol – and not with just Sir Roger – and then within the same programme when interviewing whichever actor seemingly reverse his opinion.

    As to RM’s performance as Bond, well, if you look at Connery’s last film and see the level of tongue in cheeck compared to previous Bond efforts, including George’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, you would note, as most do and the producer’s admit, the direction the Bond films were going in. So they cast accordingly. Like when they cast Daniel Craig. Pierce Brosnan was doing a good job in the part, being, and only in my opinion, a cross between Moore and Connery, but when they decided to reboot the series they wanted the grittiness of the books and so recast.

    As one of the best pieces of entertainment, Moonraker was brilliant. As a Bond film it failed, again, in my opinion. I thought that at the time and think it now.

    Daniel Craig portrayal of Bond is the closest to the character of the Bond of the books. Having read the books again recently, I still have this view five years on.

    As to Roger Moore as an actor in the sense you are talking about, I will quote the man himself: “Actor, who said I was an actor.”

    As to your experiences of Barry Norman I cannot comment, but I have enjoyed a book or two of his on actors and films.. I am not sure whether I still have any of them as so many of the couple of thousand books I use to have were either sold on eBay or given to the charities I support…

  42. Fitramblers allegations of hypocrisy against Bary Norman naturally caught my eye. It is an argument we’ve had before, but I continue to defend Barry to the hilt. I saw him give a talk at the local Arts Centre a few years back and he was abrim with Hollowood anecdotes. Is it not possible, Fitrambler, to change your opinion without being a hypocrite? For this is what critics in fact tend to do. In the movie and TV business in particular, there is often a hype-fuelled enthusiasm which has to be reassessed once a little time has passed, let alone the historical judgement of history which can come decades after the film has been made. Barry’s job on Film Whateveryear was to give his instant critique based on one viewing of a movie. His more cogitated views on film can be found in his books. The simultaneity of opposite views is surely the definition of hypocrisy. Like many critics – and not a few viewers – Barry Norman often changed his view because of cultural fashion, so that films like The Ladykillers metamorphose from crowd pleasing comedies to British classics. But aren’t both such views right?

    As for Roger Moore, I never thought him much of an actor. His post modern wisecracking Bond irritates me – Connery and even Lazenby at least managed to capture the darker side of a man who is, when all said and done, a cold blooded killer. Moore’s earlier films have passed me by, so I may do him an injustice, but I’ve seldom seen him in a role where he isn’t literally ot metaphorically winking at the camera. He is, however, one of those chaps who has been gentlemanly in his handling of fame, doing a lot for charity and respecting his fans. I’ve never seen The Persuaders, being aware of it only from later spoofs done on comedy shows.

    Your recounting of the journey to London reminds me why I no longer go there.

  43. Oh, if only words really had failed you GloomLaden. Would that it were the case. Let’s be honest, your relationship with them has always been a trifle volatile. They say actions speak louder than words but – whilst suffering from a severe lack of enthusiasm in the activity department – you continually attempt to redress the balance with your interminable verbal chicanery.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised though if, in the end, even Death turns out to be a complete and utter disappointment to you.

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